OnePlus Buds Pro review: Sound thrills but controls ruin user experience
Since its integration with OPPO, things are shaping up quite differently for OnePlus – mostly in a good way. Changes in the Nord 2 5G (review) smartphone were subtle yet apparent, same is the case with the recently launched OnePlus Buds Pro wireless earbuds. On paper, the OnePlus Buds Pro comes across as an all-round package deal in the wireless earbuds segment. But how does it fare in real life? Let’s find out:
This is one area where OPPO’s influence is apparent. The OnePlus Buds Pro looks similar to the OPPO Enco X in more ways than one, but with a better texture design language. It boasts in-ear design with a tiny stem protruding from the earbuds. Made of plastic, these earbuds have a matte black finish (review unit) with a dual tone colour texture. The matte finish makes the buds easy to handle use. As for quality, the earbuds seem to have a durable sturdy build. They might withsteveryday abuse, but they do easily become dirty require regular cleaning to stay in a good condition. The Buds Pro is IP55-rated for water dust resistance.
The black matte finish extends to the earbuds’ charging-cum-storage case. It is a tiny rectangular unit with curved corners which makes it slide easily even in the most cramped spaces like a jeans pocket. On the front, there is a tiny LED battery indicator that doubles up as the pairing light indicator. The back side sports the case USB-C charging port. The top, surprisingly, is not boring features the OnePlus branding. The OnePlus Buds Pro’s charging case is heavier than those of most peers, but it is one of the few that come with wireless charging support. The case is water resistant too (IPX4) but not dust resistant.
From adaptive active noise cancellation to wireless charging, Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, Dolby Atmos support, the OnePlus Buds Pro is brimful with premium features. However, most of its key differentiating features are limited to OnePlus smartphones, that too not all of them. For example, the buds’ fast pair function is available on the OnePlus 6 series smartphones above. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos is available only on the OnePlus 7 series smartphones above. The earbuds support LHDC (Low Latency High-Definition Audio Codec), besides SBC AAC. But then there are not many smartphones compatible with LHDC. Therefore, the Buds Pro mostly uses AAC as standard for audio transmission.
The OnePlus Buds Pro impresses nonetheless with a rich sound signature. These earbuds’ audio output is bass-rich, something that ticks with Indian consumers. Interestingly, the bass-heavy output does not kill other definitions – vocals treble. The earbuds’ sound output is thrilling with crisp trebles, deep bass clear vocals. It is one of the few earbuds that work well for most audio profiles, including music, instruments, podcasts.
Rounding off the stellar performance are earbuds’ value-added features. The Buds Pro supports adaptive noise cancellation, which automatically adjusts the ANC intensity based on the ambient environment. It works as advertised is a great addition to the mix. Besides auto, there are manual controls to adjust the ANC intensity between extreme light. And then there is the transparency mode, which lets the ambient noise pass through the earbuds, so you stay aware about your surroundings.
The OnePlus Buds Pro is among the few pairs of wireless earbuds that work as well with the Apple iPhones as with Google Android devices. Besides, these can be used with a wide range of Bluetooth-enabled devices, including PCs tablets. Managing the buds is easy too, through the supplementary app named ‘Hey Melody’ – available on both Google Play Store Apple App Store. A good thing about the app is that it lets you test the earbuds’ fit so that you get the best experience. Besides, the app shows the case earbuds’ battery lets you upgrade the firmware, whenever available. The app support is appreciated, but the absence of basic functionalities like equalisers, sound profiles, etc, makes the app insufficient, especially for pro users.
As for the user experience, the Buds Pro are good in terms of fit handling but things go downhill when it comes to controls. This is because the Buds Pro uses pressure-sensitive press controls. A light press (single press, double press, triple press) on the buds’ stem activates the respective actions. These press controls are cumbersome. They affect the buds’ fit sometimes result in their accidental ejection from the ears.
Priced at Rs 9,990, the OnePlus Buds Pro is a pair of solid wireless earbuds with experimental press controls that somewhat ruin the overall user experience. On the positive side, the Buds Pro is unlike any of the wireless earbuds OnePlus has launched before. It is not a pair of regular earbuds but one that rubs shoulders with the best available in the market, both in terms of sound quality features. Rounding off the package is the premium design modest on-battery time. In the overall scheme of things, though, the experimental press controls seem a tiny trade-off.